Lucknow: Fifty-seven minor girls have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at a state-run children’s shelter home in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, with five of them found to be pregnant and one HIV positive.
Since the information was confirmed, the UP administration has gone into a frenzy, even as officials said the pregnancies began before the lockdown. The shelter home has been sealed, and its staff quarantined.
Addressing the media Sunday evening, Kanpur District Magistrate Brahma Deo Ram Tiwari said there were seven pregnant girls living in the home, and five of them tested positive for Covid-19. He said these girls were already pregnant when they were brought to the shelter home on the recommendation of child welfare committees in different districts, and investigation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act is going on in all these cases.
Speaking to ThePrint earlier, Kanpur’s Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Kumar P. had said two of the girls had come from Agra and Kannauj in December 2019.
The SSP said all the girls found Covid-positive are being treated at the Kanpur Medical College.
“Many are spreading rumours that these girls got pregnant while at the shelter home, which absolutely isn’t true. This is not a case akin to Muzaffarpur,” Dinesh Kumar said.
“We haven’t been able to access all the documents due to the shelter being sealed, but when we get them, it will be clear since when they have been pregnant. We will also be able to find who came and went in the last two months, and how the coronavirus spread,” he added.
UP Women’s Commission member Poonam Kapoor told the media that some staff members had gone to Kanpur’s Hallet Hospital (now known as Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital/GSVM Medical College), which turned out to be the source of the Covid-19 infection.
On the issue of the pregnancies, Kapoor said: “No males are allowed to enter the shelter. Such matters shouldn’t be twisted — the girls were already pregnant.”
UP Women’s Commission chief Vimla Mathur and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have spoken to Kanpur’s district magistrate on the matter.
संवासिनी गृह व वहां रह रही संवासनी के संबंध में वायरल भ्रामक समाचार के संबंध में मंडलायुक्त डॉ सुधीर एम बोबडे के निर्देश पर एक महत्वपूर्ण वीडियो संदेश दिया गया। pic.twitter.com/xLi4lFZRBI
— DM Kanpur Nagar (@DMKanpur) June 21, 2020
Priyanka Gandhi takes up issue
The girls at the shelter home have been exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms for a few days, and the local administration informed the state health department about this Friday.
When they began being tested, it was found that two of the girls were pregnant, while one is HIV-positive and one has hepatitis.
This led to questions in the local media about the pregnant girls.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi took up the issue of the girls being found pregnant. She posted on Facebook: “The case at the shelter home in Muzaffarpur (Bihar) is in front of the country. A similar case also emerged in UP’s Deoria. So, for another such case to emerge shows that in the name of probes, everything is suppressed. But there are many inhuman incidents happening at state-run child shelter homes.”
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.